United States of austerity: America is facing an uncertain future
Increasingly partisan infighting on Capitol Hill has seen the deadline to avert $85bn in automatic budget cuts pass without accord
THURSDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2013
The munificence of Uncle Sam may suddenly be diminished as of late tomorrow night when a slew of painful and indiscriminate government spending cuts are due to come into effect. America, land of the free-spenders, is about to get its first taste of European-style austerity.
A product of the failure of Democrats and Republicans to agree on a prescription to cure the country’s deficit disease, the cuts – $85bn by the end of this year and $1.2trn over 10 years – are due officially to come into effect at midnight tomorrow. No one wants them; no one seems to know how to avert them. A nation has been left to stumble blindly into unknown fiscal territory.
For its part, the International Monetary Fund warns that, if fully implemented, the reductions will trim about half a percentage point off the country’s economic growth rate in 2013. All across the US, interest groups and industries are warning of particular areas of calamity. Farmers, for instance, are predicting the “first widespread shortage” of meat, poultry and eggs in decades because of cuts to food inspection teams.